Thinking of Buying 4WD Wheelchair? Don’t Buy from Radical Mobility!

When Lynn first lost his ability to walk, what he missed the most was fishing.  He loved to surf fish. At least four times a year, we would take a long weekend and go to Cape Hatteras for him to fish.  It didn’t matter if it was raining, cold, or hot, he would pack up his fishing gear and take to the sand.  Me–I would pack a good book and relax!  At night we ate what he caught or we went out for seafood.

Our last trip was the weekend we found out he “officially” had MS. During that trip, he had extreme difficulty walking to the beach.  I helped him take his gear and get settled and spent a lot of time on the beach “just in case.” Once the sun went down, I went in but he continued to fish.  About an hour later, he came in soaking wet.  The tide had come in and he had lost his balance and been pulled under, filling his high water boots to the top and soaking through all layers of clothing. By that point he could not stand upright. He walked bent at the waist holding on to whatever was close by.  I helped him get in the rest of his gear and he took a shower.  Although we didn’t talk much about it, we had already been prepared by the doctor that he expected the results to be MS.  So in our hearts, we knew that life as we knew it then was about to change.

After his diagnosis, he was determined to keep doing the things he loved as long as possible.  He soon was using a rollator which had a seat and I was pushing him in it more than he was walking with it. After a few “spills” where I would hit a bump I could not see and he would go flying, he got a wheelchair and then a power chair.  He really liked the freedom the powerchair provided and began to do research on the possibility of a wheelchair that could go in the sand.  He decided that the one that seemed to have most of the features he needed was made by a company called, Radical Mobility (http://radicalmobility.com/) located in South Africa.  They advertised a really cool product.  The chair itself was sturdy, not particularly pretty, but it would rise straight up to see over objects and tilt back.  It had various speeds, and could go in sand, over inclines, up steps, and over rough terrain and still remain upright.  It had headlights, a horn, and adjustable headrest, arm rests, and legs.  It seemed to be just what he needed to be able to continue to surf fish. 

At that same time he was approved for disability by social security and received his back pay check.  It was just enough to cover the cost of the chair (almost $13,000 including shipping). We hated to spend that much but prayed about it and felt that buying the chair was putting our faith in the possibilities of future pleasures and realized dreams. He ordered the chair giving the specifications he needed.  It took about four months to build and it was shipped in  early May of 2010.  We were due to go on vacation the last week of July.  Unfortunately, it didn’t arrive till September due to sitting in customs waiting to be ruled as “safe” and not a terrorist device.  At that same time, Lynn had developed a misdiagnosed urinary track infection.  He was feeling worse and worse, losing his energy level steadily. 

When we got word that the wheelchair was being delivered, he was too sick to check it out.  The truck driver could not get up our driveway with his tractor-trailer. He unloaded it at the end of our drive way. The shabby crate it was in had holes punched in the sides and by the time it was unloaded from the truck, it was an easy push on the poorly constructed crate to take it apart and get the wheelchair out.  The instructions were very basic and poorly written.  I had a very difficult time figuring out how to operate it so I could load it onto a trailer behind my car to take it to the house. (It was not completely assembled so I could not drive it to the house.)

I got the parts assembled, put it in neutral and “walked” it into the house. Since each tire moved independently, it was very difficult to drive within the close quarters of the house and to make the turns, I had to lift it around corners.  I parked it in the living room hoping Lynn would be able to try it out in a few days…

Fast forward to July. From September to July, Lynn was in and out of the hospital and recuperating from his lengthy admissions. Hoping that being able to us the wheelchair would give Lynn something special to look forward to, we decided to take it with us to the beach even though Lynn had not had a chance to drive it. He really wanted to use it to at least “walk” along the beach or fish from the pier.

Two nights after our arrival we decided to try it out.  We backed it out of the van and I put Lynn in it.  He drove around the parking lot a little to get a feel for it and then tried to drive it up the ramp so we could take it to the beach access area.  He couldn’t get it to drive up the ramp!  He weighted too much (keep in mind he had lost a lot of weight in the hospital so he maybe weighed 165 lbs).  My lightweight daughter could drive it up the ramp but not him (we knew she could because she had loaded it into the van initially.)  We finally pushed it manually up the ramp and into the van because we were determined to try it on the sand.  We got to the access area and he drove it out of the van into the sand.  It went across the parking lot to the sandy area and stalled. It would not go forward or backwards. Stuck!  No movement at all!  I had to drive back to the condo, get his transfer wheelchair, transfer him from the dead chair to the manual chair, and then we pushed the dead chair into the van. How disappointed we all were!  I felt like crying.  He was heart-broken.

So we came home and tried to contact Radical Mobility to get it fixed.  We sent emails and got a response that someone would return our inquiry shortly. We waited…and waited… and waited.  Nothing.  We sent another email.  Again we waited.  We figured out the salesman we bought the chair from had left the company when I went to their Facebook page, so we tried the “contact us” email.  Same thing.  Someone named Martin was supposed to contact us.  Nothing came.  We repeated the process several times.  Finally Martin responded and said send them the joystick, cables and motor.  We had a question about what exactly was needed, again several weeks of sending emails with no response and finally we got the instructions.

We sent the parts to their location in South Africa. No word for months.  Then finally in April of last year (2012), he said it was fixed and was being sent back to us.  He cautioned it might take a while before we got it due to a postal strike in South Africa.  That was eleven months ago and we still do not have the motor back.  We have a gutted wheelchair sitting in our living room with no way to power it up.  We have emailed Radical Mobility regularly since last April to ask for tracking information and help with locating our motor and no response. Occasionally we have gotten an email back saying they are checking on it and will get back but they don’t.

This machine was built in South Africa.  They do not have an American facility.  We have no way that we know of to get the motor back.  We are now searching for another manufacturer who might be able to build a comparable motor that could be installed so we can use the wheelchair. I’m sure it will cost us several thousand to get the necessary parts programmed, built, shipped and installed.

I feel betrayed.  This company is owned and the machines designed by someone who is paralyzed. He knows the struggles of the immobility challenged.  How can he treat fellow disabled individuals so shabbily? It’s unethical and wrong on so many fronts.  He took our $13,000 and gave us a large statue for our living room. It’s worthless. But the worth part is he shattered Lynn’s dream.  We cannot afford another chair. That was his only hope for getting a chair to use in the sand. This company does not even respect us enough to communicate with us; they just ignore us completely.

So if you or anyone you know is considering buying an all terrain wheelchair, please warn them not to buy one from Radical Mobility.  They will take your money and not give you what you paid for.  Their customer service is not even marginally present and their product just plainly does not work.  Do not be fooled by the claims on their website, their Facebook page, their Tweets or their blog.  Do Not Buy From Them. 

I have never written a negative review like this before but my conscience just keeps telling me to warn others.  I hope I have helped someone else from making the same costly mistake we made.

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About mscaregiverdonna

I am a full-time caregiver for my spouse who has Multiple Sclerosis while I try to work full-time, take care of our home, and handle any number of other functions that used to be shared by the two of us. I'm learning that it's amazing what you can do when you have to and when you have God to send you the resources you need to manage moment by moment.
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49 Responses to Thinking of Buying 4WD Wheelchair? Don’t Buy from Radical Mobility!

  1. Because my husband Bill was totally blind, as well as partially paralyzed as a result of two strokes, neither of us felt comfortable with him using a power chair. Otherwise, we might have been taken for this same ride. I hope some day you’ll get some satisfaction from this.

  2. Albert says:

    Dear Mrs Steigleder,

    We are extremely sorry that you did not receive the controls that was sent, we should have checked back with you to make sure everything was in order. We did receive email from our new branch in Durban but assumed you have received the package. I have forwarded your mail to our CEO, (martin@martinbrown.co.za) who is going to be livid and heads are going to fly.
    He has had some heath issues this past year but is recovering well. We will send you a new control, cable and power module on Monday 4th when the factory opens at 08h00. It will be sent with TNT, UPS or Fed ex so we can assure its arrival this time, only thing we will need is picture of the two motor plugs. They are the plugs with the red, black and two white wires in the centre, reason being that they can get the polarity correct on the programming.

    Once again we apologise and hope to get Lynn fishing soon, please join our blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Flickr as we don’t see you at all on those sites.
    You can mail me direct at workshop@radicalmobility.com, lets get these parts to you soonest and Lynn out fishing again.

    Kind Regards

    ————————–
    Albert Seko
    Operations Manager

    Radical Holdings (Pty) Ltd
    T/A Radical Mobility

  3. Otis Axel says:

    Oh gosh I’m so sorry to hear this. I think you did the right thing by posting this so others don’t buy from Radical Mobility. My best wishes to you and your family.

    • mscaregiverdonna says:

      Thanks, Someone from the company has since contacted me after I sent them my post and I’m hopeful that we will get the parts back before summer. I posted this however because all terrain wheelchairs are not all that common and to buy one from a business in a foreign country means you have little recourse if they do not live up to their promises. I didn’t want others who might get excited about being able to participate in recreational activities to count on them unless they can be trusted. I sincerely hope however that this will be resolved to our satisfaction soon. Thanks for your encouragement

  4. Thank you for taking the time to warn others. I’ve reposted this on my blog, which doesn’t have much traffic, but maybe it will eventually reach additional people.

    • mscaregiverdonna says:

      Thank you for your support. Even though they responded that the parts would be sent to me immediately, we still have not heard that they are on their way!

  5. Pingback: Radical Mobility Lets Us Down Yet Again | MS Caregiver Sharing

  6. Calisha says:

    Hi there, I’m currently doing an assignment on Radical mobility. Care to share any other thoughts on this company or its products. Please do email me! Thanks

  7. Andy Smith says:

    I am from South Africa and am embarrassed about your post. It sounds to me that all that was wrong was that the batteries were not up to scratch. Probably worked with new batteries. So sorry about the poor support.
    Andy C5 quad

    • Thank you Andy. What we needed was the module to be reprogrammed which is why we are having such difficulty getting a replacement. Radical is the only one with the software specific to that device or something like that so other companies won’t sell to us since they are unsure if their product would work without that specific programming. It would be such a simple fix but we have it on good authority from someone associated with the company that the issue is the owner blocking us. Sounds like a personal vendetta that we can’t seem to get around. I appreciate your comments though. We have met many wonderful people through our blogs from South Africa so we know it’s the individual we are dealing with and not the people. Take care and God bless.

  8. Paul says:

    can you expand on why you think there may be a vendetta or shed any light on why the owner would be blocking you ?. I have to say that its quite contrary to a lot of the media out there, and certainly the persona they seem to project as a company, nor worthy of the awards they seem to have garnered. Its disappointing to be sure, but I think it would help everyone to understand the situation more fully.

    • Certainly. I’m not sure why the owner is blocking us other than he does not want to return our merchandise. When we first bought the Pediator 4×4, my husband was very sick. We were not able therefore to try it out for several months. His first opportunity came that summer when we took it with us to the beach. When I put him on the chair, it did not have enough power to carry him up the ramp into our van. When we unloaded onto the sand, it stopped completely. Upon returning home, we contacted Radical. After multiple attempts at email through their website, they finally responded telling us to send them the motors for reprogramming. We did. It took months to get the details to ship the parts to them because they rarely respond to an email. After several months of not hearing from them (other than confirmation they had the parts) we tried to get them to send the parts back. No response. Finally after posting a blog on my frustration, they responded promising to return them the following week. Months later, and many excuses later, they said they sent the parts. We never received them. Months based, no answers to our emails. Finally we found someone to respond. Again they said they would send them, again they said they did send them, again we did not get them. Once again this year, same thing. We have been attempting to order new parts ourselves since we don’t have motors now for the wheels, the chair totally useless. They won’t respond to various companies asking them about ordering parts for us. Last month they again said they would send them. We again sent them all the details. Still no parts have been shipped. Someone who works inside the company who was tring to help us confirmed that Martin does this fairly often; refusing to respond and when he gets mad at someone, he blocks their emails. Per this person, all emails come through him and all responses must be approved by him. This individual has truly tried to help but has been told to stop. It’s been four years since we sent the parts and they have yet to be returned. That’s why I recommend not buying from this company. They have terrible, non-existent customer service and lie in their interactions.

  9. Alisha says:

    Good day,
    My husband and I live in South Africa. We bought a wheelchair from Radical Mobility earlier this year and I wish we didn’t! The wheelchair is of poor quality. We are now in the process of asking for a refund with the South African consumer commission.
    We also feel betrayed 😦
    Will let you know how things work out for us.
    Kind regards, Alisha

    • I sincerely wish you luck. WE finally got our control part back and it didn’t work. We are now spending money to have it reprogrammed by someone else. When we sent it to them to fix the power going to the four wheels, the wheelchair seat could go up and down and tilt. When it was returned, all the control would do is move the chair forward when we wanted it to go backwards and visa versa. I posted that comment to try to warn others because they are so unethical. I hope it works out for you. Donna

    • Erika says:

      Hi Alisha, my mom also bought one for R60000.00 – she cant use it. how do we go about getting money back please? thank you

    • Nicky says:

      Hi . I am experiencing the same problem too. Mind updating me on how things are going for u? Maybe I can also try your method

  10. Nicky says:

    It seems like many of us are experiencing the same problem with the same company. Why can’t we just unite and do something about this?

    JustAnOpinion

    • I’m so sorry to hear of the issues you have been having with them. I wish I could tell you it all worked out for us but it did not. The finally returned the control box back after they had it for about four years and now it does not even do what it used to be able to do. We originally sent it back because the motor was not powerful enough to transverse sand or move up a ramp with my husband sitting in the chair. When I returned the controller the chair could move forward and backward, up and down and tilt. It had headlights, and other functions that worked. When the controller was returned to me, now when we push the joy stick forward, the chair moves backward and visa versa. None of the other functions work AT ALL. The seat is now stuck in an elevated level due to needing to be up when I disconnected the controller and control box to send to them. We have attempted to find someone else to reprogram it but no one has been successful. Essentially we spent over $12,000 on a very large paper weight that can do nothing and the company takes NO accountability.

      I hope you have better luck with them

      • Kobus Labuschagne says:

        I agree. Where are you situated?
        I am in jhb. Took him to the cgso and case is now escalated to the Ncc.

        So this is going to be one long process but I am sure that together we would stand a better chance

      • I am in the United States. I don’t recognize the abbreviations you used. I would be happy to submit a letter to use if you need one.

      • Kobus Labuschagne says:

        Ncc stands for National Consumer comition.

        And if you dont mind a letter with your issues with radical mobility would be appreciated.

        You can mail it to wajlab@gmail.com.

        Thank you so much and will keep you posted

      • Albert Seko says:

        I recall the company offering to get a local company to come and program it for you?

      • Albert, you did make an offer initially but then when you were out of work, Martin said we had to send back the controller because there was no one here who could reprogram it. We did and it took about three years to get it back. Before we sent it, the chair had the ability for the seat to raise and tilt, headlights and signal lights worked, it could move but just did not have the power to move on rough terrain which is why we bought it in the first place. The re-programming was to make that adjustment. When Martin finally returned the controller, the chair moved backward when attempting to move forward, it would no longer raise or tilt, (those functions didn’t even show up on the face of the controller as options, and the headlights and signals did not work. We have since sent it to a dealer in North Carolina who attempted to re-program but his attempted changes did not take. We have sent it back and he is re-trying. He attempted on multiple occasions to contact your company with no response. He was hopeful to get assistance with the re-program and was ignored. So while I acknowledge that you make the offer, Martin rescinded it and has blocked all our attempts to come to a successful resolution on this issue. I now have a very large paperweight that I cannot move at all and who knows after all these years whether the parts will even function anymore since it has sit idle so long. What’s more, my husband’s condition has become close to that of a quadriplegic and his strength is not such that he can probably ever use the machine if it EVER works for the first time. It was a total waste of over $12,000.

  11. Albert Seko says:

    Donna we did offer to assist you via Skype or get a local wheelchair dealer to program it for you. Nicky and Erika you are welcome to email me on workshop@radicalmobility.com, we don’t recall any of your names but are more than willing to help.

    Kind regards
    Albert

    • Albert, I want to give you a chance to make this right. If your company will mail us a controller that works so that the Predator moves forward and backward, and the chair goes up, down and tilts, and it has multiple gears, headlights work, and signals work (like it was supposed to when we got it) and it has enough power to run on sand and carry my husband up the ramp into the van, all of which it was supposed to do when we first bought it but has never done all of those things at one time; then I will update the postings I have made to say that when you found out the controller that was sent to us did not work, you took action to correct it and give you credit for sending a replacement. I’ll even send you back the old one once I get a new one; however, I will not send the only one we currently have because it took years for us to get it back when we sent it to you before and we want to have access to it in case we ever find someone who can fix it. What do you say? Will you do it?

      Donna

      • Albert says:

        Dear Donna,

        The controller you have is a new upgraded on, it needs to be programmed when it is in the chair and somebody can tweak it to get it perfect. What we going to do is contact a local company we identified a while ago to do everything and get is in working order. Pieter Nell was the guy that told you to send the controller not Martin as Martin knows it can’t be programmed as a stand alone unit. No local company has contacted us, we will now instruct a company to do the programming. Is the chair assembled?

        Regards
        Albert

      • Yes it is assembled. Pieter was no longer with the company when we discovered the problem. The instructions to send the controller back to you all to program it came from Martin (we have the email still with the instructions from him). We have had two separate companies attempt to talk to someone there by email with no responses and multiple attempts (have emails showing that). That being history though. If you have a local company in the area who can come here to program it that would be great. Thank you I look forward to hearing from them.

  12. Albert Seko says:

    Donna, Hi factory is open again could you forward those emails from the companies in VA as we did not receive anything. Please forward to either Martin or myself so we can get the ball rolling.

    Regards

  13. Paul Moulang says:

    Hi from South Africa
    It is now March … please update the current situation in this sad saga.
    Been following with interest as I take in mobility scooters etc. for repair, dealing with the relative manufacturer for support, even replaced “Chinklish” controllers with locally available ones to get them going!!

    • We have found a person here who has attempted to reprogram and correct the problem. Radical saw my blog and responded saying they had no idea we were having trouble (untrue, we sent them emails) and that they would be happy to help whomever we were working with correct their issue. Our guy contacted them and they say now, (how many years later??) that it can’t be reprogrammed by just working on the controller; both the controller and chair must be together to get the reprogramming to work. So now our person has sent the controller back to us and I’m going to drive the chair five hours away to see if it can be reprogrammed when everything is back together. So we will wait and see. Just curious, has Radical been helpful in assisting you with repairing their chairs?

      • Paul Moulang says:

        I’ve not worked on Radical’s machines, and probably will not. Being close by, it is easier to refer the customer to them. I have done controller replacement jobs mainly on Chinese machines where no one else will touch them.
        I can see, being such a complicated beast, that the programming is done ‘in-situ’. With ‘normal’ scooters the only control is over the (usually) single motor. Rad’s stuff has more motors and actuators for their varied functions.
        CARE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES
        Some tips on caring for the electronics in these machines:
        1. Lead-acid batteries have to be, when unused for extended periods, fully charged and disconnected from the machine, topping up periodically to compensate for self-discharge
        2. Failure to do so can lead to reduction in capacity by excessive discharge, and forming of a white insulating deposit on the plates (phosphate)
        3. Electrolytic capacitors can dry out, and require re-forming or replacement
        4. Dust and/or moisture ingression can cause (conductive rubber) buttons and other controls to mal-function
        I’m making use of this opportunity to highlight these factors for general consumption, and not implying that they are the cause of your problems.
        Regards

  14. Thanks for your additional information.

  15. Albert Seko says:

    “…. it can’t be programmed as a stand alone unit. No local company has contacted us, we will now instruct a company to do the programming. Is the chair assembled?” You said yes it was assembled, we did chat to the guy who was trying to programme it but he only had the joystick.

    Programming the chair is a 10 min job, but it can’t be done if not assemble as mentioned 10 January 2016 on your blog, since then we have had no response from you.

    Ragards
    Albert Seko

    • Previously Martin had us send him just the joy stick and controller to you all in Africa to reprogram it. At no point were we told that it was impossible to do it without the chair being attached which is why we did not send our “local” guy the chair. He is five hours away from us so now he has sent us back the joystick and I have put everything back together and plan to take the chair to him next week. I expect he will contact you about programming at that time.

      • Albert Seko says:

        Once he has the chair we will assist with everything, please he can contact us any time via e-mail or Skype.

        Regards
        Albert Seko

      • Brian Keith says:

        I have been asked to work with the Radical staff on behalf of Donna to get their chair working consistently. I have the chair and joystick in my shop. I intend to evaluate it this week and follow up with your company.

        Brian Keith
        Mobility, Repair and Rental Center
        Greensboro, NC USA 27407
        P 336.608.8810

      • This is to confirm that Brian is the person who is working on repairing our wheelchair. Please work directly with him. thank you

      • Albert says:

        Greetings all,

        Hope you’re all going well, Brian please do not hesitate to contact either myself or Martin via E mail or Skype.

        Kind regards

  16. Lisinda Grobler says:

    hi donna,

    please update us on the progress of the chair. has it been fixed yet?

    • Albert says:

      Dear Donna,
      We have not heard anything from the U.S. Company currently assembling the wheelchair so that we can assist in programming it again. Is it possible to maybe forward us the contact details via e-mail so that we can assist them with the programming and anything that might be struggling with.

      Kind regards
      Radical mobility

      • Albert, he responded above to ask you how to contact you. Here is his address and phone number.

        Brian Keith
        Mobility, Repair and Rental Center
        Greensboro, NC USA 27407
        P 336.608.8810

      • Martin says:

        Greetings all,
        Brian has all or contact details as I have spoken to him before, Brian you can contact either myself or Albert on the above mentioned e-mail addresses. Albert is on leave for the next two weeks so you can contact me on martin@radicalmobility.com.
        Kind regards
        Martin Brown

  17. Hi donna. Please update us on the wheelchair , is it fixed yet.

    • I have not gotten word yet that the wheelchair has been fixed however, I have put the two parties in connection with each other. The person fixing it for us here in USA is in another state from use and knows we can’t come get the chair till next month so that may be why we have not heard.

  18. Dwayne says:

    Dear Martin, Please contact me or respond to Martha Visagie’s letter to Radical Mobility as at 27 January 2016. You may call me on +27726715298. This is a very urgent matter that we would like to please have resolved, we have tried to contact you through multiple channels to no avail.
    Kind Regards

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